Mr GFAF and I have just returned from a Winter escape in Seminyak, Bali and so I thought I would put together a sample of 10 Tips for Your Next Stay in Seminyak in case you’ve got the Winter blues and are in need of a little bone-thawing holiday.
We were last in Bali in 2003 so, naturally, much has changed. Our last Bali visit was six months after the bombings, when there was a real melancholy and a shortage of tourists. This time the Balinese were excited about the upcoming Australian school holidays and anticipated busy period. We noticed fewer mangy dogs wandering around yet loads more scooters on the streets. That stench from the underground drains was mostly gone and I am pleased to report that we avoided Bali belly. The best thing though was the enormous change to the dining scene, with so many more international options than before sitting alongside the delightful warungs that we so enjoy.
So here are my 10 tips for Your Next Stay in Seminyak, Bali. Many of them were recommendations made to me by friends before we left that I can now vouch for, plus, I have included a few new discoveries. I hope it’s a good starting point if you’re planning a Winter warming trip to Seminyak, Bali sometime soon.
You get what you pay for. Full Body massages in the busy areas start at around $AU7.50 but, like all things in life, you pay for what you get. For a fabulous foot massage try Spa Bali where you will pay around $20 for the hour. The foot bath massage treatment includes a soak in a footbath of rose petals with a frangipani behind your ear as you sip on sweet ginger tea in air-conditioned comfort. Bliss. Bodyworks in north Seminyak also comes highly recommended.
There are plenty of afternoon happy hours right across Seminyak. If you’re in the southern area, make sure you pull up a couch at Chez Gado Gado where you can have a quiet sundowner or two overlooking the beach strip where scooters loaded with locals and tourists come and go. The cocktails here are extremely well priced. Try the Gin Smash with passionfruit.
Further north, Motel Mexicola is absolutely worth a visit for the drinks list, Mexican food and music. Try The Macho No. 5 which is Mexico’s answer to the Negroni. Mr GFAF enjoyed the Mexicola. Priced at around $AU13.00 each.
If you’re up towards Petitenget, a visit to the Potato Head Beach Club is essential, even if only to amuse yourself watching the Euro Trash (thanks Dan for the eloquent descriptor). This is where the under 30s wearing barely there bikinis and chiselled chests hang all day on sun lounges and bean bags listening to cool for school tunes in between dips in the pool. The architecture is rather divine though.
It translates as ‘rolling pig’ which is basically a suckling pig stuffed and flavoured with shallots, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and dried shrimp and other things that is cooked on a rotisserie over coconut husks to sublime perfection. There is the popular Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen on Sunset Road. The servings are on the small side but a bargain basement price of around $AU4. It’s tasty, the service is quick and the Bintangs are cold. We went there for lunch, however a taxi driver later told us that he likes to go there first thing in the morning when the Babi Guling is fresh. Not sure if I could stomach the spicy pork that early!
We actually found a really good Babi Guling at Made’s Warung in Seminyak. It’s a tourist type restaurant however the suckling pig was ‘Balinese Spicy’ and plentiful for around $AU20.00. We also ordered the Bebek Betutu, a traditional Balinese dish of highly seasoned and spiced duck that is wrapped in banana leaves and coconut bark, then cooked long and slow over coals. Mr GFAF sucked all the bones dry it was so good.
If you are spending anytime in Ubud, we were told by several locals that the best Babi Guling comes from a restaurant there called Babi Guling Payangan Bu Ari.
So, everyone says not to drink the wine in Bali, and this advice is mostly valid as it is often warm and the selection is not always great. However, if you see a local label called Plaga – it’s worth trying the Rosé. It’s made from grapes imported from Western Australia that are fermented in Indonesia. It’s not half bad. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Your Balinese dining experience would not be complete without a visit to Mamasan. Make a booking to avoid disappointment. They are open for lunch as well but it’s more of a night time venue. The food is Asian inspired and you must delve into the cocktail list. To eat, try the “Dendeng balado” – caramelised short rib beef with kaffir lime chilli and lemon basil.
Head to Ginger Moon. Amid the hustle and bustle of busy ‘Eat Street’ or Jalan Oberoi, is this little haven serving modern Asian cuisine. Dishes are designed to be shared. Don’t miss the Babai Guling Half Mooned Steamed Buns and the Bali Nachos are fun.
Take a break at Souq Organic. Here you can enjoy a delicious coffee and maybe a light, café style bite while catching up on your emails and maybe even shopping for some clothing or homewares. It’s Australian prices but there are some lovely bits and pieces.
Around Eat Street try Nyaman Boutique for relaxed, French inspired women’s clothing, Frockk for women’s linen clothing and Kim Soo for homewares and accessories. For the guys there is an Afends concept store or By the Sea for resort wear.
Take a taxi for around $AU15.00 from Seminyak or hire a scooter for the ride north – allow 30 minutes to account for traffic. Canggu is the new Seminyak. It appeals to the organic eating, under 30, yogi, top knot set looking for ‘the real’ Bali that their parents reminisce about. Try The Slow for awesome mixology and tasty eats in an uber chic but simply styled oasis. Maybe even stay a night! For fun in the sun and cold Bintangs with easy food late into the night try Old Man’s.
I have two day trips from Seminyak that I can recommend.
The first is the Bintang Bali Bike Tour. It’s a full day heading up to Mt Batur by minivan for the view, which was cloaked in cloud and rain on the day we were there, and a snack before setting off downhill on bike through villages and rice fields. There are stops along the way including a visit to a traditional family compound. A tasty hot lunch, Balinese style, is also included. It’s a lot of fun and well-priced at around $AU45.
The second is the trifecta of tours with Bali Traditional Tours. The full day Cooking School and Spa tour takes you north to Ubud where you visit a local market before attending the Dong Ding Cooking Class where you make a delicious Balinese style lunch to enjoy. Following lunch is a one hour massage at the nearby Ubud Traditional Spa. I wasn’t sure how I would go with a full stomach before a Balinese style massage but I think it actually helped me to relax into the treatment. The price was around $AU90.
I hope you get some inspiration from my 10 Tips for Your Next Stay in Seminyak. Happy travels and Selamat tinggal!